THE FA DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION
On behalf of the Hampshire County Football Association
A PERSONAL HEARING
Andover Lions Football Club Chris Paris (Andover Lions Football Club) Darren Paris (Andover Lions Football Club)
THE DECISION AND REASONS OF THE COMMISSION
1. The Commission convened on Thursday 30th April 2015 at the Hilton Hotel in Southampton in order to consider the Allegations made by Hampshire County Football Association (“Hampshire”) against Andover Lions Football Club (“Andover”) , Chris Paris and Darren Paris.
2. (i) Hampshire charged Andover with a breach of FA Rule E20 – failed to ensure players and/or officials and/or spectators conducted themselves in an orderly fashion on 28th February in a match between Andover and Hayling United (“Hayling”)
(ii) Hampshire charged Chris Paris with a breach of FA Rule E3 – Improper conduct against a match official (including abusive language/ Behaviour) on 28th February in a match between Andover and Hayling United (“Hayling”)
(iii) Hampshire charged Darren Paris with a breach of FA Rule E3 (2) – Improper conduct – aggravated by persons ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation or disability on 28th February in a match between Andover and Hayling United (“Hayling”)
3 (i) Andover had entered a plea of not guilty (ii) Chris Paris had entered a plea of not guilty (iii) Darren Paris had entered a plea of not guilty
4. The following members were appointed to the Disciplinary Commission (“The Commission”) to hear this case:
Mr Michael Weeks (Chairman) (FA appointed)
Mr Carlo Carvello (Hampshire FA Local Anti-Discrimination Panel) Mr Peter Sowton (Hampshire County Football Association)
Mrs Deborah Sowton (acted as Secretary to the Commission) The Hearing
5.1 The Commission decided to hear all three allegations concurrently. The evidence to a great extent was common to all three personal cases. All parties agreed to this course.
5.2 On behalf of Hampshire, the Commission had read statements from the following:- (i) Christie Walker (Referee)
(ii) Kayleigh Walker (Wife of Referee)
(iii) Chris Paris (Secretary of Andover and Linesman) (iv) Darren Paris (Andover Captain and player) (v) Paula Baldwin (Club Treasurer (Andover)) (vi) Ryan Facey (Andover Player)
5.3 The Commission first heard evidence in person from Christie Walker (Referee)
Mr Walker confirmed that there was an incident in approximately the 80th minute of the match. He sent off an Andover player for abusing him following which he heard Chris Paris who was Linesman abusing him by calling him “a fucking idiot twat”. He told Chris Paris he would be reported. When questioned at the hearing he confirmed that he was sure Chris Paris abused him but equally sure that the sending off of the other player came first. The abuse had been sparked by the referee’s decision to allow a goal after, as Andover perceived it, he, the Referee had dropped the ball at the feet of a Hayling player who had scored a goal. This had caused outrage amongst the Andover players. When the Referee returned to the changing room, his wife accompanied him to use the toilet. The Referee was verbally abused by Darren Paris who told him he had “ruined the fucking game”. When the Referee was in his changing room the door had been kicked and when he opened it to tell people to stop, Chris Paris was there and told the Referee he should not be such a “twat”. When his wife returned from the toilet, she was abused by Darren Paris and called a “fucking fat slag” or words to that effect. He and his wife then retreated into the Referee’s changing room. The door had then been repeatedly kicked. He had thereafter heard Chris Paris say “goodbye Ref” and then when he and his wife tried to get out of the changing room, they were unable to do so. An Andover player eventually let them out after several minutes saying that the persons responsible had now left. He said that the incident had been extremely distressing, particularly for his Wife who was 7 months pregnant. He saw a yellow puddle outside his door when he came out and believed this to be urine.
5.4 The Commission then heard evidence from Kayleigh Walker who confirmed the contents of her statement.
She said she had watched the end of the match after getting out of the car having heard through an open window that some abuse was being directed at her husband. She had asked to use the toilet in the changing rooms at the end of the game which she did. As she emerged from the toilet she witnessed her husband being abused by several Andover players by his changing room. She had suggested he go inside his own small room where she joined him. As she did so, she was verbally abused by Darren Paris who called her “a fucking slag”. In her statement she said that Darren Paris had said that women had no place in football. She did not mention this in evidence. She was sure, although she did not know his name at the time, that it was Darren Paris that gave her the abuse. She had seen him play the week before and noticed he had jet black hair. She agreed she had no particular reason to remember him from the week before. When in the room she and her husband were aware the door was being kicked repeatedly. They could not emerge because the door was bolted; eventually an Andover player unlocked the door and stated that the people responsible had left the match. A yellow puddle which she believed was urine was present outside the door.
5.5 The Commission then heard evidence from Chris Paris who agreed the contents of his statement and letter.
He agreed that the Andover players were incensed by the Referee’s decisions both the week before and particularly surrounding the “dropped-ball” incident which lead to the” unfair” goal. He said that the opposition goal scorer had taunted the Andover spectators and he had shouted “Idiot twat” at the Hayling player rather than the Referee. In the changing room afterwards he denied that Darren or any Andover players had verbally abused the Referee or his wife. He said he was clearing up the kit outside the Andover changing room which was very close to the Referee’s changing room. The Referee emerged shouting at him accusing him of sexist remarks towards his wife and presenting her in front of him as if to demonstrate who she was and her condition (pregnant). Chris Paris said he responded by saying that the Referees wife should not be in the changing rooms. Darren was close to him by this stage but took no part in conversation. Chris Paris denied that he had in any way made comments to the referee whilst the Referee was in his changing room. He took no part in any locking of the door and recalled that there was no urine on the floor. If there had been any yellow liquid, it was probably orange from a spilt bottle of drink. He agreed that Ryan Facey had said to him that he, Ryan, was the one that unbolted the Referee’s door.
5.6 The Commission then heard evidence from Darren Paris who confirmed the contents of his statement.
He had been substituted after 25 minutes with a groin injury. He had watched most of the rest of the match but had left the field of play early in order to sort kit out in the changing rooms. When the players came in they were disappointed but were soon calmed down by their manager Howard before he, Howard left for an appointment. He said his father Chris Paris was outside the changing room when he, Darren heard shouting from the Referee. Darren himself had an icepack on from the groin injuryand was in some pain. Nevertheless he emerged from the changing room andwas nearby when Chris Paris was being shouted at by the Referee who was holding his wife out in front of him as if to demonstrate who the recipient of the sexist remarks was. Having retreated back into the Referee’s room, that was the last Darren Paris saw of the Referee or his wife. He denied that anyone abused the Referee or his wife, kicked the Referee’s door that anyone urinated outside it. He and his father left without, any knowledge of the trapping of the Referee and his wife in the Referee’s changing room. When questioned by the Commission he confirmed that no other Andover players had been present when the Referee shouted at Chris Paris. Chris Paris had not, as far as he, Darren Paris was aware, commented to the Referee while the Referee was in his own changing room. If the Referee heard what he thought was kicking at the door, it could have been things being thrown around or boots being stamped in the adjacent changing room.
The Decision 6.
6.1 The Commission decided that the charge against Andover was proved
(i) They accepted the evidence of the Referee and his wife was that there was verbal abuse from several players (whether or not it was from Darren Paris or Chris
Paris); there was kicking of the door, a yellow liquid outside; they were locked in for several minutes.
(ii) Ryan Facey agreed that a member of Andover Lions was responsible for trapping the Referee and his wife in the Referee’s changing room changing room
(iii) Andover Lions players were incensed by the Referee for his conduct that day during the game and the “dropped-ball” incident (and there was bad feeling from the week before)
(iv) The Commission did not accept the accounts given by Chris Paris and Darren Paris as to events in the changing rooms. It was highly unlikely that the Referee’s wife would have joined him unless there had been an incident developing as she described. The players were angry at the decision and were capable of abusing the Referee as had been demonstrated by one of their players during the match itself (if not Chris Paris)
(v) The Commission accepted that the Referee’s door was being kicked. It was not conceivable that the Referee and his wife could have mistaken this for noise in the changing room.
6.2 The Commission did not find that the Charge against Chris Paris was proven;
(i) The Commission were not persuaded that it was likely that the Referee had sent off one player for abuse and that there was then a gap in time before Chris Paris abused the Referee in the way described. It was equally likely that Chris Paris was calling the Hayling goal scorer a “twat, a complete twat” while the player was celebrating. The Andover players were incensed by the Referee’s decision at that time and by the Hayling goal scorer’s behaviour. The Commission could not be satisfied on balance that the Referee correctly identified Chris Paris as being abusive to him.
(ii) In respect of Chris Paris’ behaviour in the changing room, whilst the Commission did not accept Chris Paris’s version of events in the sense that he denied that Andover players had been abusive and kicked the door, this did not necessarily mean that Chris Paris himself was aware that the door was locked or that someone may have urinated against it. There was no direct evidence of Chris Paris himself having been abusive to the Referee or the Referee’s wife. It seems clear that he was present and not,at least on the evidence, joining in the abuse when he had an opportunity to do so.
6.3 The Commission found that the case against Darren Paris was not proven:-
(i) Darren Paris was not present when the controversial “dropped-ball” incident took place. The goal made it 5-0 rather than 4-0 and it was by no means certain that Darren Paris as Captain and having been injured would have used the opportunity to abuse the Referee and his wife. Whilst the Commission did not accept that only he and Chris Paris were present when the Referee accused Chris Paris of sexism they did not believe there was sufficient evidence to find that he had been correctly identified by Kayleigh Walker as the perpetrator of the abuse. She had
no particular reason to remember him from the week before, or that day. Having found that there were a number of players abusing the Referee and/.or his wife in the changing rooms, the Commission did not feel able to isolate Darren Paris as individually responsible.
7.1 The Commission imposed a fine of £100 upon Andover Lions Football Club. They found that the incident fell into the “high” category of breaches of rules of this type but at the lower end of the “high” category.
7.2 The features of the case that the Commission took into account in deciding to bracket the incident in the “high” category were:-
(i) The fact that a number of Andover players were involved in the incident in the changing rooms.
(ii) The incident was protracted. It had started on the field of play and continued for 15 to 20 minutes in all probability in the changing rooms
(iii) The trapping of two persons in a room when one of them was heavily pregnant must have been extremely distressing.
7.3 The Commission took into account in setting the level of penalty ( having found it was in the” high” category) the following:-
(i) That the Referee may have contributed to the escalation of the incident in the changing rooms by shouting unnecessarily loudly at the Andover players
(ii) The fact that the Andover Lions Football Club had no disciplinary breaches of rules recorded against it.
(iii) That Mr Chris Paris and Mr Darren Paris had between them rebuilt the team in recent years
(iv) That the proceedings themselves (bearing in mind both faced individual charges) must have been stressful to deal with as individuals and by them on behalf of the club.
7.4 The Commission further decided that 8 points should be recorded against the club’s disciplinary record with Hampshire County Football Association.
7.5 The Commission ordered the return of the fee of £30 to Chris Paris upon the finding that the charge against him had not been proven
7.6 The Commission ordered the return of the fee of £30 to Darren Paris following the finding that the charge against him had not been proven.
8. The decision that the Commission had found the charge against Andover proven is subject to the right of Appeal under the relevant FA Rules